Reading through the material after printing it off it is safe to say I almost ran my hi-lighter dry.
We as Christians do share a lot of values that the world does.
For example. Where the Bible says not to kill, the non-believers would agree killing is just un-acceptable. This goes for stealing, lying and pretty much any other sin that affects others as much as it does us.
But what about the other commandments?
Adultery. Most people agree they want to live in a monogamous relationship. Christian or not. But then again there are some who have open relationships. Coveting is something people view as being innocent but do not realise the further implications it can have on a persons life. This sin eventually leads to stealing as well as an un-healthy obsession with what one does not have.
As Christians we have left a world of sub-standard and have entered into a world of Gods standard.
Where the world says, “life a good life.” The Bible says, “…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I found two good web definitions for the word ETHICS.
• ethical motive: motivation based on ideas of right and wrong
• the philosophical study of moral values and rules
What motivates a person to have ethics and what maintains them even in the worst case scenario?
For the Christian it must be the scarlet thread that is weaved through the words of the Bible and is summed up in the words of Matthew 22:37-40
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and foremost commandment. The second is just like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets.”
It was just this morning that I prayed that in the heat of the moment I would do the will of God and love, even at gun point. Under the most brutal circumstances we as Christians have an obligation to lay down our own lives and our own desires and follow the commandment of love.
Picture the worst case scenario in your mind.
Put yourself in that scenario. How do you imagine yourself handling it? Whether it be at work compromising your beliefs or dealing with your lifelong friends who are about to take part in questionable activity for a friends bachelor party. As cheesy as it sounds but I must quote it, “What would Jesus do?”
Psalm 101 is an excellent view of integrity when it comes to his personal ethics which he has obtained through belief in God Almighty. To anyone who is reading this essay, write this Psalm out and memorize it. Make it your prayer.
I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil.
This Psalmist is saying that even behind closed doors he will keep in mind his values and the fact God is watching him. It is easy to behave yourself when people are watching, but when do you “let your gut hang out?” I am a truck driver. I spend a lot of time alone in a workspace driving around the city I live in driving a really big truck doing deliveries in tight places. Sometimes I get cut off by a car and they hit their brakes and I will vent and have sworn, and for that moment in my heart I let their actions (which by no means depict their overall character) control my emotions and how I view them as a person.
This on my part is a total lack of integrity. In the privacy of the moment I fail to keep in my mind that God is ever present and I have to maintain in my heart to love my neighbour as myself.
I would like to turn the attention of this essay over to the book of Colossians.
The reason I want to take a brief look at this book is because this is what happens when the body becomes disconnected from the head, which in this book the body is the church and the head is Christ.
If we become disconnected we lose contact from the source of our strength and understanding of what is right and wrong. So many Christians think that when they sign on to the Christian life they have an obligation to a list of rules they can somehow keep under their own power and their own will.
This is the furthest thing from the truth. As James 4:7 puts it we are called to a life of submitting to God and resisting the devil through folded hands in prayer.
Not by our strength, not by our might but by Gods spirit. (Zech 3; Psalm 20:7)
What happens when we lose connection with Christ is we are left to our own devices and ideas.
We come up with strange doctrines and ceremonies which are us trying to make physical manifestations of God when he has all along made Himself known by His word through His Son.
When we come up with ceremonies and our own standards of right and wrong we have what Paul called in
Col 2:23 as being “self made religion; self abasement; severe treatment of the body.”
Now that we have been infected with the leaven of the Pharisees (Mark 8:14) we have now become legalists because we are functioning apart from the headship of Christ. Now we are becoming Judge-mentalists.
We are holding others to our un-godly standards of “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (Col 2:21)
Now according to Colossians 2:16 “No one is to act as our judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.”
I realise I have failed to summarize what I learned entirely throughout the Christian Ethics course but I lack the ability to do so in a short essay. All I can do as a fellow pilgrim tripping over his own feet at time, and I often catch myself sinning against God and man who was made in His likeness I can say who the source of our ethics is and the best advice I can give as a fellow Christian is feed upon the word of God.
I cannot read your bible for you; I cannot say your prayers for you. So many of us are malnourished when it comes to the word of the living God.
A one hour sermon once a week is just not enough to keep us on track. We need bible studies at home with other believers, we need prayer groups and we need our private time alone with God to be jealously guarded against the pressures of work; television and even sometimes our families. We might need to sacrifice an hour of sleep to get into the word of God.
True ethics and a true standard of right and wrong comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. A lot of people do good deeds and leave moral live. But without the actual power of the Holy Spirit which Jesus brings we will not be able to withstand the pressures the world throws at our values.
Besides. What good is virtue if it is not done in the name of the one God?
A good moral decision begins with your thoughts because your thoughts become your action; your action becomes your habit and your habit becomes your character.
Psalm 119:9 in the amplified Bible puts it as "How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed and keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to it]."
The way we behave is an outward sign of God working in us to the rest of the world. If we participate in the crude joking at work and if we are a part of the gossip; or whatever type of unethical behavior that the world is known by we will not be the light God has called us to be. Some religions are known by the way they dress or do their hair. How about we as Christians are known by our love and devotion to Christ!?
I used to be in the army and I was as part of the crudeness and ill-behavior as anyone else. One day I said that I was a Christian and people actually laughed at me. That was an indication to me that I was not conforming my life to the word of God and was not living according to the Ethics that Jesus came and taught. His social code really is far and above any other that I have seen in this world.
When we pray for Gods kingdom to come we pray that his righteous rule and reign would be evident in our hearts and lives. Within ourselves as a Christian sub-culture in this world we need to separate ourselves and be a theocracy and show the world that Gods way is the only way to life and peace. A true utopian society that functions in the world, yet we are not of it.
Colin Burgess (firstname.lastname@example.org)